A tornado has struck Taranaki this evening which shocked residents say sounded like a freight train roaring past.

It comes amid warning for Upper North Island residents to brace for another wild night amid forecasts of thunderstorms, hail, heavy rain, lightning and tornadoes.

More than 22,000 Auckland homes remain without power or hot water tonight following Tuesday's devastating storm.

Taranaki Civil Defence is reporting a localised tornado in New Plymouth in the Strandon area.

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Civil Defence said police are currently assessing the damage. It is warning people to stay indoors.

Sandra Whitmore of Waiwaka Terrace in New Plymouth said a "mini tornado" passed through her neighbourhood at 6.50pm.

"There was 20 seconds of heavy rain pelting down, it drowned out the television, there was a slight pause then there was a gust of wind and there was a roar.

"It sounded like a freight train and was over in 10 to 15 seconds.

"We don't know what damage it has caused, our house is fine."

During the brief heavy winds she heard a loud thud and thought it was the house chimney falling over.

But when the storm passed and her family looked outside the thud was the next-door-neighbour's trampoline which had been anchored down but blew over to their deck.

She had heard of some roofs being ripped off of nearby Gill and Watson streets.

Lynne Bailey in New Plymouth said the tornado passed her property on Devon Street East. She could not see much but the sound was similar to a train approaching.

Wheelie bins were flying around and minor debris was thrown against the front window and the conservatory of her house.

"Initially, we just thought it was the start of the roadworks outside. They started digging up the road outside our place at the same time."

Taranaki Civil Defence group controller Craig Campbell-Smart says there have been reports of damage but no reports of injuries.

"We have reports of localised damage to a broken house window, one fence down, trees down on a local intersection and a door being blown open"

He says tornadoes are unpredictable and doesn't know if there will be anymore tonight.

A fast moving front is forecast to sweep across the North Island tonight and early Friday morning, bringing strong westerly winds that could escalate to gale-force speeds.

West Aucklanders in particular are being warned of "damaging winds" that will be highly localised.

Fire Emergency New Zealand in Auckland said there had already been a few callouts for trees down because of the wind, but it was nothing in comparison to Tuesday's weather event.

Niwa says an 80.3km/h gust has been recorded tonight at Mangere.

"Gusty winds are now moving into the region."

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said tonight's weather is expected to be different to the Tuesday's destructive storm. People living in eastern or central parts of Auckland are unlikely to experience gusts as large as previously seen.

But for those living out west, especially along the west coast beaches, there remains a good chance of experiencing briefly damaging winds again tonight.

"During the last event, damaging winds were widespread and affected most people. This is not the case tonight – we expect severe winds to be rather localised this time around," said Griffiths.

A night of weather mayhem blasted Auckland on Tuesday with winds gusting up to 213km/hr in the Manukau Heads.

The wind tore roofs from houses and uprooted trees that came crashing down on more than 100 power lines across the region. At its peak 180,000 homes were without power.

By 8pm tonight Vector response crews had restored power to about 90 per cent of customers who had lost electricity due to Tuesday's storm.

More than 22,500 customers are still without power and/or hot water tonight. Vector's outage field staff are working through a list of more than 600 faults, power outages, and reports of damage on the network.

MetService have issued severe weather watches for Northland, Auckland and the Waikato tonight. Photo / File
MetService have issued severe weather watches for Northland, Auckland and the Waikato tonight. Photo / File

A spokesman said the latest weather forecast for this evening had improved, "with the possibility Auckland will be spared the worst of the strong winds and thunderstorms earlier forecast".

Provided it remains safe to do so, Vector crews would continue working overnight to restore power.

Earlier this afternoon, the MetService warned of a thunder, lightning and tornado risk due to hit Auckland from 8pm tonight.

Exposed places in Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and the Tararua District could see strong winds rise to severe gales from 8pm tonight until 2am Friday.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Northland through to Waikato. MetService reported that it could bring "further localised strong wind gusts, and short periods of heavy rain and hail" between 8pm and midnight.

Supermarkets are having to throw away (or give away) food since the storm on Tuesday night. Countdown in Richmond Road Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied
Supermarkets are having to throw away (or give away) food since the storm on Tuesday night. Countdown in Richmond Road Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied

Western parts will cop the brunt of this while eastern and central areas are less likely to experience thundery conditions.

"This means that the broad area carries a risk for severe gale winds, and in addition, smaller, more localised spots within the broader area could experience squally conditions associated with the passage of thunderstorms, with gusts 110km/h or more," MetService reported.

Northcote Point Wharf is closed due to high winds and buses will operate between Birkenhead and Northcote Point Wharf from 5:05PM and 7:05PM.

Weather Watch weather analyst Philip Duncan said the bad weather should move off quickly tonight and make way for a showery Friday that clears in the evening.

The biggest shock of the weekend would be the temperatures on Saturday morning, Duncan said. It would be -4C in parts of Southland while the Bay of Islands would wake up to a balmy 18C.

"It's just because there's a little bit of warm air across the top of New Zealand producing a bit of rain. The rest of New Zealand still has that southerly cold air."

On Tuesday, a woman was trapped in her car in Morningside, New North Road. Photo / Dean Purcell
On Tuesday, a woman was trapped in her car in Morningside, New North Road. Photo / Dean Purcell

Sunday should see the country warm a little bit before being hit with more cold temperatures and downpours on Monday.

"All next week we're dominated by rain and wind on the west coast and dry and sunny on the east."

Auckland Emergency Management Director John Dragicevich said there was still a number of households who didn't have power and subsequently couldn't use their waste water tanks.

"We encourage anyone without access to a toilet or drinking water because of the storm to phone us on 0800 22 22 00.

"We will take their details and get a portaloo and portable drinking water source to them tomorrow."